The South West of England is a popular holiday destination for tourists from around the world. It offers beautiful scenery, historic sites, and plenty of things to do. The region is home to some of the UK’s most famous towns, such as Land’s End, Penzance, and Cornwall, with Cardiff, also being just a short distance away from the area.
The Best Places to Visit South West England
1. The Beaches
The beaches of South West England are some of the most beautiful in the country. From stunning wild beaches to crystal clear waters, there is something for everyone to enjoy when visiting these stunning coastlines. From sand and sea to cliffs and coves,
Here are the best beaches in South West England:
- Bournemouth Beach is a stunning stretch of golden sand on the east coast of Dorset. With its gentle waves and soft sand, it’s a great place to take a relaxing walk or cycle along the beach.
- Bristol City Beach is one of Bristol’s most popular attractions with its wide promenade and impressive pier. The clear blue water here is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, while there are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby.
- Cowes Beach is another great choice for those looking for a sandy beach with good waves. It’s located on the Isle of Wight and has been voted one of Britain’s best beaches by Trip Advisor users.
- Sandbanks Beach on Dorset’s South Coast is a great spot for families with its wide promenade, shallow bay, and range of activities available including sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking.
- The coastal towns of Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater, and Lyme Regis all have their own lovely beaches that can be enjoyed without having to leave town.
- Weston-super-Mare’s Long Bay offers sweeping views across the Bristol Channel while Bridgwater’s Golden Mile has crystal-clear waters and plenty of beach bars and the best restaurants to enjoy.
- Lyme Regis has a wide range of activities on offer, from golfing to fishing, making it the perfect place to spend a day in the sun.
2. Bristol’s Free Museums
Bristol has a wealth of free museums, perfect for exploring its history and culture. From the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to the Hengistbury Head Museum, there are plenty of attractions to visit in this vibrant city. The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of art from around the world, spanning centuries. Highlights include works by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Vincent van Gogh. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm, and Sunday 11 am-5 pm. Admission is free for all visitors.
The Hengistbury Head Museum is another great place to explore Bristol’s history. This historic house was home to one of England’s wealthiest families in the 1700s. Today, the museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts from that era, as well as exhibits on natural history and archaeology. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday 10 am-4 pm (last admission at 3 pm). Admission costs £5 for adults, £3 for children (6-16 years old), and children under 5 years old are free.
3. Explore the Mendip or Quantock Hills
The Mendip Hills are a range of hills in Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire in South West England. The hills form the eastern border of the Bristol conurbation and the western edge of the Cotswolds. Much of the area is protected by national parks and nature reserves. The Mendip Hills are popular with walkers, cyclists, and horse riders. There are many attractions to explore, including a number of hill forts and villages. Some well-known settlements include Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Street, and Taunton Deane.
4. Road Tripping Cornwall
Road-tripping Cornwall is the perfect way to explore this beautiful part of England. There are so many stunning places to visit, and each one is unique in its own way. Some of our favorites include Bodmin Moor, Truro Cathedral, Padstow Harbour, and St Ives. Each of these locations has something special to offer visitors, making them ideal spots to spend a few days exploring. Whether you want to relax by the seaside or take in some local history, Cornwall has something for everyone. So if you’re planning a trip down South West England soon, be sure to add Cornwall to your list of destinations!
South West England is home to some of the best places to visit in England, and Exeter is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved. The city has a rich history dating back to Roman times, and its architecture is a mix of medieval and modern styles. There are plenty of interesting attractions to see in Exeter, including the cathedral, the theatre, and the botanic gardens. If you’re looking for somewhere to relax after exploring the city, then the surrounding countryside is perfect for a walk or cycle ride.
6. Birdwatching at the Exe Estuary
The Exe Estuary is a great place to bird-watch. There are plenty of birds to be seen, both on the estuary itself and in the surrounding countryside. The best time to visit is during the breeding season when you can see many different types of birds. Some of the best places to watch birds include: The Exe Estuary Nature Reserve is a great place to start your journey into birdwatching. It’s home to over 250 species of bird, including some rare ones, and it’s situated right on the estuary itself.
There are lots of trails available for walking and cycling, making it easy to explore everything the reserve has to offer. If you’re looking for a little more peace and solitude, then head out to Bideford Tor Wildlife Reserve may be just what you’re looking for. It’s located about an hour South West of Plymouth and has a wide range of habitats including woodland, heathland, and salt marshes which make it a great spot for birdwatching. You can also find plenty of spots for careless hiking or fishing if you need some downtime from all the bird watching!
7. Cotswold villages
The Cotswolds are a series of villages and towns in the South West of England, mainly in Gloucestershire but extending into Worcestershire and Herefordshire. They are known for their ancient churches, Georgian houses and gardens, and some of the best wine in the country. The area has been occupied since prehistoric times, with important settlements such as Stonehenge and Avebury dating from the Neolithic era. In Roman times it was part of the province of Britannia Superior. Towards the end of the 12th century, the area passed into the hands of the de Braose family who built numerous castles, including Berkeley Castle and Grosmont.
The Cotswolds were fortified against rebellion by Henry III in 1265 – a tradition that continues to this day with several villages having Royal Military Police patrols. Today, tourism is one of the main sources of income in the Cotswolds. There are numerous tourist attractions, including Bath Abbey, Stroud Cathedral, Chipping Campden Castle, Thornbury Castle, and Sherborne Abbey. Some villages have become major centers for essential shopping, such as Cheltenham Spa and Broadway Market in Cirencester; while others are renowned for their excellent food (e.g. Bourton-on-the-Water), especially ham production (e.g. Swindon).
8. Explore Wells and Glastonbury
If you’re looking for some amazing places to visit in the South West of England, Wells and Glastonbury should definitely be on your list! Both towns are full of history and culture, and there are plenty of things to do in each. Wells is home to the world’s oldest working windmill, while Glastonbury is known for its mystical ruins and its legendary wells. Between the two of them, you’re sure to have a fantastic time!
9. Hiking Cheddar Gorge
Hiking Cheddar Gorge is a popular spot for visitors to the South West of England. The gorge is located in the Brecon Beacons National Park and can be found just south of Abergavenny. There are a number of trails that visitors can take to explore the gorge, and each offers its own unique experience. Some of the more popular routes include the Old Man’s Trail, which takes hikers through wooded areas, and the Maesglen Falls Trail, which visits beautiful waterfalls. Visitors can also enjoy views from the top of Cheddar Gorge, or explore its depths by taking one of the many hiking trails that lead down into it.
10. Lundy Island
Lundy Island is a small island located off the coast of Devon in England. The island is home to an ancient abbey and stunning coastal views. Visitors can explore the island’s ruined abbey, or take a walk along its scenic coastline.
11. Ride from Bath to Bristol or Bradford on Avon
Bath is a beautiful Georgian city located in southeast England. It is home to some of the best Roman and Georgian architecture in the country, as well as world-famous thermal baths. The city also has a thriving food scene with many restaurants and cafes. Bristol is another beautiful city located in the South West of England. It has a rich history dating back to the 13th century and is famous for its music, arts, and architecture. Bradford on Avon is a charming medieval town located in central England. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features many historic buildings including churches, guild halls, and mansions.
12. English Riviera
The English Riviera is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, and for good reason. It’s stunningly picturesque, with rolling countryside and crystal clear waters making it the perfect place to relax and explore.
Here are our three favorite places to visit on the English Riviera:
- Bournemouth: Bournemouth is a beautiful seaside town located on the coast of Dorset. The town has been nicknamed ‘the sunniest city in England’ thanks to its consistently sunny weather, making it an ideal place to spend a summer holiday. Bournemouth also has plenty of attractions, including beaches and parks, making it a fun and easy place to explore.
- Poole: Poole is another seaside town located on the south coast of Dorset. It was once a busy port, but now it’s known for its stunning Georgian architecture and beautiful coastal walks. Poole also has plenty of attractions, including a harbor full of boats and art galleries, making it a great place to spend a day or two explorings.
- The Isle of Wight: It is one of England’s most iconic islands and is home to some amazing historical landmarks like King Arthur’s Castle and St Paul’s Cathedral. The island is also famous for its stunning coastline – which can be explored by foot or by boat – making it an ideal destination for all types of travelers.
13. Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bristol
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience, consider a hot air balloon ride in Bristol. With views of the cityscape and surrounding farmland, these flights are a truly unique way to see the area. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even take a flight over the Bristol Channel!
14. Wookey Hole
Wookey Hole is a cave located in the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wookey Hole is one of the most popular tourist destinations in southwestern England and is known for its natural beauty and twisted limestone caves, which are rich in cave formations and stalactites, and stalagmites. The entrance to the cave is at an elevation of 209 meters (686 ft), but the main part of the cave descends to an underground depth of 104 meters (341 ft).
Stonehenge is an ancient monument consisting of a series of megaliths that are located in Wiltshire, England. The monument is composed of several stones that were erected between 3000 and 2500 BC. The stones were transported from the local area and placed in a circular formation. Archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was used as a religious site by the British people.
16. The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a world-renowned botanical garden and environmental education center located in Plymouth, Devon, England. The garden was founded in 1986 by Sir David Attenborough and is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. The Garden has a collection of over 10 million plants from all over the world, making it one of the UK’s largest conservation projects.
17. Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is a place of tranquility, beauty, and seclusion. Located on the rugged coast of Cornwall, it features a coastline full of cliffs, coves, and bays, as well as an abundance of wildlife. The sanctuary was founded in 1984 to protect the endangered seals that call this area home. Visitors can view these animals up close at the seal pool or watch them swim in the ocean. The sanctuary also offers tours that allow visitors to learn about the ecology of the area and the seal population.
18. Fossil Hunting on the Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast is a world heritage site in South West England, comprising 117 miles of coastline from Dorset to Somerset. The area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it contains some of the best-preserved fossil-rich sedimentary rocks in the world. These rocks date back to the Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago, and are rich in fossils of both plants and animals. The Jurassic Coast is home to a number of well-known quarries, including the Lyme Regis, which produces spectacularly colored marble. Fossil hunting on the coast is a popular activity for both amateur and professional collectors. There are plenty of opportunities to search for fossils on foot or by boat, and many places offer guided tours. Some of the best places to visit include Charmouth, Bridport, Weymouth, and Abbotsbury.
If you’re looking to explore beautiful South West England, there are plenty of great places to visit. From stunning coastal towns such as Penzance and Falmouth, to rural villages and heritage attractions, there’s something for everyone on this list. So why not start planning your trip today?